Propaganda and the Press
A Fringe Confession
When the news of Mohamed Osman Mohamud’s “capture” hit the press, the Dissenting Editor called a meeting. She wanted the Prospect to come out against what she saw as the government essentially duping a kid into setting off a fake bomb. She identified it at once as what is was: entrapment of some witless teenager by the government for the purpose of propaganda.
The Fringe was resistant. I simply couldn’t get over this kid’s willingness to dial a phone and kill thousands of innocent families. The thought is so morally repugnant, I simply couldn’t engage my thinking brain, the issue was seized by my emotional brain.
The Dissenting Editor persisted: the kid was a dupe, doing what the FBI wanted him to do. It was no different from Patty Hurst.
But I was fixated on the image of a van sitting amidst thousands of moms and dads and kids.
And that is how propaganda works, as I know quite well. The thinking brain is turned off; the feeling brain is turned on.
The Dissenting Editor then forwarded the link to Glen Greenwald’s article, which we LINKED on our front page.
By now most people know that Mohamed Osman Mohamud is a person who has been victimized by the government, used to make a case where no case existed. The media characterize the arrest as the FBI “interrupting” the teen as he attempted to blow up citizens at a tree lighting, but that is simply the opposite of the case. As we know, the government prevented the 19-year-old from flying to Alaska to take a job on a fishing boat by placing him on the infamous “no fly list”. Jobs in the Pacific Northwest are hard to find, unemployment in the area is about 10%. Denying him a chance to find a job, they then funded him, encouraged him, and helped him put the whole thing together.
Prior to that, Mohamud had done a few relatively innocuous videos, and exchanged a few emails. The FBI, in search of terrorists, and sensational justifications for further civil rights curtailments, found fresh clay in Mohamud.
Greenwald has already provided the insight that people get tired of the U.S. riding roughshod over their cousins. In the case of Mohamud, his own escape from a devastating civil war might have had some effect, as well as his odd place in the United States as a Somali immigrant. Longtime Prospect readers know that Somalia is the poster child for miserable places to live.
Add to that normal teenage angst and the need to find a place, to matter in the world, and the frustration of being a young adult in a jobless America, and we don’t have to wonder that the FBI was able to copy Al Queda and the Taliban in giving young, disaffected men a reason to kill.
Lacking a real threat, the government bureaucrat creates a threat. That’s efficient government. In the long run, though, we’re the ultimate victims and government and the bureaucrats who represent it continue to manufacture “1984” style “wars” and continue to find “terrorists” everywhere. As the fruits of our national effort, our dignity, and the treasures of our liberties drain into this “war” on terror, shall we empower more bureaucrats with “patriotic” legislation?
We are now spending $2.8 billion dollars a week in Afghanistan. The war in Iraq cost at least $3 trillion. We are spending that money killing Muslims. No doubt that money is buying some teen-aged terrorists, too.
Read this account of how the FBI might have proceeded: